10. Las Vegas
As if it wasn’t hedonistic enough the rest of the year round, Sin City manages to step it up a notch for New Year’s Eve, with its famous Boulevard turned into a giant pedestrianised zone for super-safe wandering. You can choose to head indoors to one of the spectacular clubs, or catch a world-class show, but come midnight, most folks will be hitting up Las Vegas Boulevard (affectionately known as ‘the Strip’) to catch the fireworks – which most of the big hotels put on – lighting up the sky. A word of warning, though, as everyone heads off to hotel-hop post-display, most establishments only let hotel guests through the doors to avoid huge overcrowding, so we’d suggest heading back to your own hotel to play into the small hours of 2013.
Sydney-siders certainly know how to do justice to New Year’s Eve, with all eyes on the Harbour Bridge come midnight – and this year the city has signed up its favourite gal, Kylie Minogue, who has been working as a creative director for the show. For the best fireworks vantage points head to the Botanic Gardens, Kirribilli and Circular Quay; from where you’ll also get to check out the Harbour of Light Parade before the pyrotechnics. There will be more than 60 vessels that will sail from Cockatoo Island in the west to Clark Island in the east, in a colourful loads-of-pics-worthy seafaring procession.
When the clock starts tick-tocking to midnight, join the rest of the hoards and head to one of the world’s most famous streets, the Champs-Elysees, which really starts to fill up from 9pm onwards. Make sure you have a good view of the Eiffel Tower come 12 as the iconic landmark will be lit up with fireworks (as an FYI, New Year’s Eve is called Saint Sylvestre in France). For an NYE to remember, wrap up warm and book a boat trip along the Seine – there are trips for every taste, from hedonistic party boats, to jazz cruises – and sail smoothly into 2013. On January 1 take your sore head to the Trocadéro to catch the city’s famous New Year’s Parade.
Berliners head to the Brandenburg Gate to welcome in the New Year, where party people regularly top the million mark, and from which you can expect to see the 2,000-strong firework display. Go with the throng to the city’s legendary ‘Party Mile’, Strasse des 17th Juni – the street behind Brandenburg Gate – which is turned into an open-air disco for the night, boasting DJs, laser and light shows and food stalls and beer tents. Wish the locals “Guten Rutsch” come midnight.
6. Hong Kong
Start your NYE celebrations in Hong Kong with an early dinner, before pounding the pavement to get a great view of the fireworks over the world-famous Harbour come midnight. For the best views, you’ll have to join the rest of the crowds at Central District, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui harbour-front; or if you want to immerse yourself in a party atmos, head straight to Lan Kwai Fong district. And don’t miss out on the annual Countdown Carnival for a plethora of music, performances and shows, which attracts locals and tourists alike. But if you can’t make it to HK for the aNYE 2012/2013 celebrations, jet in for February 11, when the city-state will be welcoming in the Year of The Snake, with another bout of festivities.
5 .New Orleans
While Bourbon Street is where you’ll find the tourists celebrating the New Year, savvy locals slip across to Frenchman Street for a more laidback boho vibe in this party-mad city. Throngs of people pack the bar and café-lined streets, and you can expect plenty of impromptu brass band performances throughout the night. Swap concrete for aqua and book on to a steamboat to see in the New Year classic Big Easy-style, catching sight of the myriad firework displays along the Mississippi, or join the crowds at Jackson Square where you can witness the dropping of the famous Baby Bacchus from the top of the renowned Jax Brewery building in the French Quarter.
One of the best European cities to spend NYE in, due to the fact you can walk (or stumble!) home easily without the need for a taxi. On the big night – which the Dutch call Oudjaarsdag or Oudjaarsavond (Old Year’s Day, or Old Year’s Evening) – head to Dam Square, Rembrandtplein, Nieuwmarkt and Leidseplein, where the bars will be filled with revellers. The firework displays can be somewhat haphazard, as there is a tradition for locals to bring their own and set them off in the squares, making for some fun, though slightly scary moments for the uninitiated. On January 1, refresh those bleary eyes with a brisk stroll through Vondelpark.
3.Rio de Janeiro
As if this sizzling city needs another excuse to throw a metropolis-wide party! On New Year’s Eve, it’s all about hitting up Copacabana Beach, with plenty of revellers heading there on the morning of the 31st to spend the entire day and night celebrating. Dress up in traditional white and join the two million plus who flock to the sandy shores to thread their way between a multitude of impromptu beach bashes. Alternatively, catch the cable car up to the celebrations on Sugarloaf Mountain (advance ticket in hand, of course), for the annual, organised parties that are hosted there.
There’s nothing quite like New Year’s in Vienna, where you’ll find yourself swept along cobbled streets by the lively crowds. The best way to experience the decadent side of the city that Casanova once called home is by securing tickets to one of the many balls hosted on the big night, such as the glitzy event at the Hofburg Palace. Alternatively, there is a plethora of musical galas and concerts, at which you can sip on mulled wine and soak up the sounds for a night of somewhat refined revelry. Finally, be sure to make time for the New Year’s Path on your December 31 strolls. It starts at 2pm and is made up of a number of stages dotted around the inner city, with each boasting a programme of entertainment from all corners
of the world.
Hogmanay in Edinburgh hasn’t achieved international acclaim for nothing, and it’s one of the biggest and best street parties in the world (certainly one of the coldest!). The four-day celebration starts on December 29 with the Torchlight Procession from Parliament Square to Calton Hill, atop of which a Viking long ship is spectacularly burned; followed by plenty of family-style entertainment along George Street on the 30th. Street parties and concerts abound on the 31st, with revellers spilling out of the many bars, restaurants and cafés come midnight to celebrate on the street, wee dram in hand. Finally, on New Year’s Day, a trip to catch the Loony Dook between 11am-1pm at the Moorings in South Queensferry is a must – if you like seeing slightly worse-for-wear people in fancy dress leaping off the dock into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth, that is.